Aging Voice Problems

Presbyphonia, Presbylaryngeus

If you're having the kinds of voice problems -- such as voice weakness or tremor -- that may develop with age, the Duke Voice Care Center can help. Our specialists have the training and expertise to diagnose and treat voice disorders in older adults. We also understand how voice problems can affect you socially and emotionally, possibly even leading to isolation and depression. Our goal is to help you improve your voice so you can remain socially engaged, healthy, happy, and productive.

Voice Problems as We Age

As we get older, our voices change. Some of this stems from other aging-related processes: We lose muscle mass, our mucous membranes thin and become drier, our lung capacity lessens, and we lose some of our fine muscle coordination. Changes can also occur in the voice box, such as vocal cord atrophy or bowing (presbyphonia or presbylaryngeus).

Changes in the voice as we age can include:

  • Higher pitch in men
  • Lower pitch in women
  • Reduced volume or projection of the voice
  • Reduced vocal stamina
  • Tremor or shakiness of the voice

If your voice feels weak and you can't be heard, this can often be improved. A voice evaluation can clarify your diagnosis and determine the best way to help you. Voice therapy, which is like a vocal fitness program, can help make your voice stronger. In some cases, surgery is recommended to increase the bulk of the vocal cords. Or using a personal voice amplifier may help. There are many options available to strengthen your voice.

Why Choose Duke?

We are one of the few centers in the Southeast offering comprehensive care for voice problems in older adults. We use the latest techniques and bring years of experience to evaluating your voice problem and helping make your voice stronger so you can stay engaged in all the things you love to do. 

  • Your care team will include laryngologists -- ear, nose and throat doctors with advanced training in voice problems -- and speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating voice problems in older adults.
  • You'll benefit from a comprehensive voice evaluation that looks into all the factors that may be causing your voice problem. These include medical conditions, medications, and the way you use your voice, as well as your age. 
  • Our laryngologists are trained in the most advanced techniques in voice surgery, whether it's vocal cord augmentation (plumping the vocal cords for a better sound) or microsurgery to remove vocal cord lesions.
  • We coordinate your care with other specialists to manage any medical conditions that affect your voice.
  • If you sing, professionally or for personal enjoyment, you can consult with our clinical singing voice specialists -- speech pathologists who are also experienced performers, singers, and singing teachers. They are trained to work with the whole age range of voices and are skilled in treating the special problems with the singing voice as we age.
Reviewed: 02/19/2018



Reviewed: 02/19/2018
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